Fresh from the press: after almost two decades of wandering space since their last few releases and a long breakup, Slowdive returns to our galaxy with the chiming, high-energy boom of a new single, the well-named “Star Roving”. Thankfully, they are roving no longer and we welcome them home!
As many of us know, the band reunited in 2014, to much acclaim, for a tour that saw them playing their guitar-based catalog for the first time since the mid-90s. All of the members have been working hard musically since those days; Neil and Rachel played as sadcore-country-folk band Mojave 3 on 4AD (the home of Cocteau Twins, Swallow, His name is Alive, Dead can Dance from whom originated the darker, post-punk dreaminess that bands like Slowdive and other shoegazers drew inspiration from) Christian started the dream-pop band Monster Movie (Ghostface Records) and ex-drummer Simon moved on to create electronic ambient music under his own name. Neil grew a beard! The final release was to be ultimately the album “Pygmalion” (1995) which brought in new fans for the newly-born minimal-electronics IDM genre Neil drew influences from, which he’d hinted at in the 5 EP (1993), and which turned away many older fans for the same reason. Many had expected more of the noisy soundscapes the band were better known for at the time. Creation Records, the legendary label that housed much of the shoegazing movement, dropped the band from their roster a week later. The breakup occurred shortly after.
Indeed, perhaps those dissenting fans feel they might be victorious now; with this new single, Slowdive returns with a heavily psychedelic guitar sound, producing a droning roar, beautifully smudged across the sky. Combining their early post-rock squall with a more poppy, repetitive-but-fun melody, this really sounds like they are happy to be back. Funky is not usually a word I’d use in conjunction with this band but the rhythmic sections of the song just feel fun and more jovial than any Slowdive song to date, with a driving energy like nothing else they’ve done before. There are clear signs that these are the same kids making big, loud and sad rainy-day songs in their early days, but this is clearly a more refined and older, more relaxed group and seems more toned-down and professional at the same time. The biggest similarity with their last outing are the minimalist vocals, which feel like they are emanating from somewhere within the rest of the sound and don’t say much beyond a few repeating lines, more atmospheric than a singer’s voice usually is.
We don’t really know if they will return to creating the ambient soundscapes and lush, depressively-darkling songs they are much respected and renowned for crafting in their youth, but if this song is indicative of the entire upcoming album, I am excited for a future that holds a sense of motion towards excitement, nostalgia and an embracing of modernity without clinging to old ways. Slowdive have created in “Star Roving” an excellently accessible and prescient song. They will soon hold enthralled many listeners, all anticipating something amazing from these, our beloved shoegaze gods. Enjoy!